Mid-November marked the grand opening of XIX’s (Nineteen’s) second location, the Terwillegar eatery expanding to St. Albert’s Shops at Boudreau. I had the amazing opportunity to taste the menu alongside Edmonton’s media last week and I can honestly say that Nineteen will bring a much needed dining experience to Edmonton’s north as well as to the residents of St. Albert.
I will be upfront about this: I have not dined at Nineteen before. Ever. I remember when they first opened, I had just started food blogging. I remember thinking, “I’ll make it down there one day. Some day. When I’m in Terwillegar.” Yeah, hasn’t happened. What kills me is that I hear nothing but good things about Chef Andrew Fung’s food. In fact, every time I’ve tried his dishes (at events, festivals, etc), I’ve had very positive experiences. It’s mind boggling that I haven’t tried Nineteen, I know. Apologies!
I’m told that the design of the space is similar to its Edmonton location, an open and comfortable space. Nineteen’s lounge accommodates both kinds of crowds, those who want to sit at a table and lounge in comfort or sip on cocktails at bar height. The dining side is warm, sophisticated and features various artwork in a gallery format. The best view in the restaurant is hands down the full glass window into the open kitchen. It’s not uncommon to see a lot of spaces feature open kitchens, but there’s something about Nineteen’s that really makes it a winner. Well lit, spacious, and a full on view of the team in crisp uniforms and aprons and working in the cleanest possible environment — you know you’re in good hands.
Chef Andrew Fung welcomed our group and right off the bat told us that we were in the hands of St. Albert’s Head Chef Rino Lam for the night, a graduate of the NAIT Culinary Arts and Red Seal program with over 15 years years of culinary experience.
Our night started off with martinis, the Pear-Jito (Grey Goose La Poire vodka, Bacardi Limon rum, muddled mint, lemonade, lime juice, cane sugar reduction, and Q sparkling water) was right up my alley; and the (unphotographed) Blue Lavender (Grey Goose Citron vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, muddled blueberries, lavender), a subtle flowery drink perfect for summer. Not only were the cocktails impressive, but so was the wine list at Nineteen. It’s a good thing I work in St. Albert. Something tells me this will be my new hangout spot to catch up with north Edmonton friends.
Proscuitto and bread with espresso aioli was our first of many appetizers for the night.
The ‘Fung Bun’ features a citrus soy-glazed pressed pork belly from Irvings Farm, nestled with pickled red onions, cucumbers, green onions in a soft pillowy steamed bun. Love!
Nineteen’s ‘Garlic Quebec Duck Wings’ can be be done two ways: a spicy honey garlic sauce or fried garlic, shallot, scallion, and child flakes. The latter was our bite for the night, the wings wonderfully confit and perfect for those on the lounge side. God, I love duck. The crust on this was amazing!
A ‘Spicy Miso Albacore Tuna Tartar’ was well-balanced and just a hint of heat, the spicy miso dressing not overpowering the taste of the fish. The plating on this dish was fantastic, huge bursts of colour!
Dinner featured a dish that I couldn’t find on the menu, although hopefully one that would return! The ‘Miso-Marinated Sablefish’ with wild mushrooms and rapini was beautifully done and one of my favourites for the night. I’m always a big fan of lighter seafood dishes.
Our second entrée: ‘Alberta ‘AAA’ Beef Tenderloin’ on a bed of bright beet risotto, Quebec goat cheese crusted zucchini, baby arugula, and crushed walnuts. My tenderloin was moist and cooked to perfection, the risotto rich and creamy.
As if our table wasn’t already stuffed to the brim, an array of desserts came out to end the night. A couple of my tablemates proclaimed they weren’t “dessert people”. This is about the equivalent of me saying, “I’ve never been to Nineteen.” Borderline offensive. Just kidding. But seriously. Nineteen’s dessert selection will turn anybody into a “dessert person”! A scrumptious apple pie (with a crust that will make you ponder how they got it so flaky), a “Pizookie”, that’s pizza cookie for those wondering, a brown butter bite and cheesecake, if I remember correctly. I was in a dessert coma, I’m sorry.
Describing Nineteen’s food is hard. I suppose it is considered fusion, Canadian cuisine done with hits of Asian flavours. But to be frank, I think they’re spot on with describing it as simply great food. And that’s more of a rarity than you would think. Prices are moderate-high (with all mains between $30-40) and I would hope that the portions reflected that evening were tasting portions only. I hope to be back for dinner (and brunch! FORTHELOVEOFGOD, they have brunch on weekends) before the end of the year and I am excited for more refined cuisine for those who live close to the area. Congratulations to Chef Andrew Fung on the expansions, Chef Rino Lam and his team for an amazing dinner and to the front for incredible dinner service! I look forward to my next meal! I have yet to try their infamous ‘Ahi Tuna Twist’ (don’t judge me!) and there’s more duck to be had with the ‘Duo of Brome Lake Duck’!
Sidenote: To my boss, if you’re reading this. I highly suggest we have a team meeting here. Discussion of work-related issues only after martinis and desserts (and everything in between), KTHX!XIX (Ninteen)
#104, 150 Bellerose Drive (St. Albert)
Disclosure: I was invited as a guest for a media dinner. All opinions are of my own.